You’re Probably Doing Pushups Wrong — Here’s Why

Pushups seem easy enough, right? You’ve probably been doing them since grade school after, all. Surprisingly — despite the move seeming pretty straight forward — it’s one of the most commonly misperformed exercises because of one simple mistake.

Now let’s do a little test: Get into your pushup form, do a pushup, and return back to your starting position. Where are your arms? If they’re out in a T-position — or at 90-degree angles — you’re doing it wrong. And if your arms form 45-degree angles, congrats! You’ve already got this whole pushup thing down.

Here, New York City-based personal trainer Lana Herzig demonstrates:

Wrong:

Right:

The Most Common Pushup Mistake

Whether they were taught incorrectly or not, most people automatically do pushups with their arms in a T-shape because, well, it’s easier — and when little kids learn how to do the move, they’re obviously going to go the easy route. What you really want to do, though, is tuck your elbows into the sides of your body as much as you can. And, as you get better at doing pushups, the easier it will be.

So, Why Can’t You Just Stick With the Wrong Way?

Well, you can — no one’s stopping you. But doing pushups with your arms in a T-position isn’t too great for your body. Instead of getting the full-body benefits of the move, you’re actually putting a lot of unnecessary stress on your rotator cuff, aka the group of tendons and muscles in the shoulder area. When you do pushups correctly, you’ll feel it in all the right places: your chest and arms. And instead of sore, angry shoulders, you’ll develop nice, lean muscle.

How to Get It Right

To ensure you’re doing pushups correctly, just follow one simple tip: throughout the entire pushup process, keep telling yourself to keep your arms pulled in toward your body. They’re going to want to return to that T-form, but if you’re mentally telling your arms not to, your form will keep improving over time. And, you’ll be left with nice, toned muscles anyone would be proud of.

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